Perspectives: Can we ‘turn on, tune in and drop out’?

Image by Leks_Laputin / iStock / Getty Images Plus, St. George News

OPINION – About five months ago, I deliberately ended a long-term relationship I’d been in for more than 30 years. I stopped listening to the radio, reading the newspaper or watching TV news.

Breaking up with the media was one of the best choices I’ve ever made. I feel happier and wiser for having done so.

This doesn’t mean I holed up in a cave with my hands over my ears and my eyes tightly shut. If there is an issue or subject that sparks my interest, I can research it myself.

I decided it was time to apply Dr. Timothy Leary’s advice to “turn on, tune in and drop out” in a personally productive manner.

In the 1960s, Leary’s admonition became the slogan for American counterculture.

As he later explained in his autobiography, there was much more to his words than the perceived invitation to get high and stop being productive.

Leary explained:

‘Turn on’ meant become sensitive to the many and various levels of consciousness and the specific triggers that engage them. ‘Tune in’ meant interact harmoniously with the world around you. ‘Drop out’ suggested an active, selective, graceful process of detachment from involuntary or unconscious commitments.

It was an invitation to break free from those cultural things that were blinding his generation and preventing them from living up to their potential.

Looking around at where our culture is headed today, the case can be made for a contemporary counterculture movement that takes a similar approach – albeit with different goals. It’s a matter of rejecting what limits us and and choosing to consciously live life on our own terms.

A person who chooses to “turn on” today is someone who refuses to become numbed by the various substances, technology and messages that seek to make us into mindless consumers and compliant drones. This is especially true of our political systems.

One of the greatest benefits of this willful consciousness has been becoming more aware of all the things in my life that have nothing to do with the artificial strife of politics. Of all the addictions that plague our society today, our dependency on politics has to be one of the worst.

It has literally driven those who are dependent upon it to a type of madness where angry hooting has replaced reasoned discourse as the preferred method of communication. Social media is the virtual crack house in which this particular poison can be obtained at any hour.

It’s astonishing how many people get caught up in the false notion that the only things that really matter are based in whatever is currently being reported in mass media. By refusing to take my daily dread supplement, I’m finding that the world outside of political posturing is a much more rational place.

I’m also experiencing a lot less disappointment than my friends who have invested a majority of their faith in a process that disingenuously promises solutions yet only delivers more problems.

These days, a person who chooses to “tune in” will understand there is more to our world than materialism and will adjust their values to reflect this truth. What they own will be of lesser importance than how they treat others.

They will champion the individual while seeking ways to help others without dominating them.

Leonard E. Read explained perfectly the individual nature of personal liberty:

Man is an individual being. Man is also a social being. His material success – even his existence – depends on the progress of others. Yet, man’s fortunes and existence depend also on himself. In some respects he is tied to others, but in most respects he must be freed from others.

The key distinction here is that our ties ought to be voluntary rather than compulsory.

By tuning in to the world around me, I’ve rediscovered how many truly decent people are within my orbit. I notice and appreciate the innumerable acts of personal service and selflessness that are taking place – most often without any kind of public recognition.

The risks and dangers of the world have not disappeared. However, they have been placed in their proper perspective, which, it turns out, is far less than what our fear-based culture would have us believe.

Finally, to “drop out” in our day, means to consciously break free of those aspects of our culture that seek to manipulate us for some nebulous “greater good.” Those who seek to control us love to foment conflict, distrust, prejudice and indecency.

By deliberately limiting their influence in our lives, we become friction against their designs.

This is more than simply rugged individualism; it’s a commitment to overcoming the evils of our time with personal goodness, truth and grit. In our time, that’s what counterculture looks like.

When any culture tries to make participation in its decline mandatory, we have a duty to resist.

Bryan Hyde is an opinion columnist specializing in current events viewed through the lens of common sense. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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8 Comments

  • Uncle Lenny May 22, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Well spoken!

  • comments May 22, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Yep Bry, I agree. As well as mass media garbage I’ve also given up most tv watching, and that includes netflix. Netflix has gotten very bad in the last few years. Not only are their shows becoming poorer and poorer quality, I also notice they try and slip in profane, indecent, and even pornographic content wherever possible–not adding to the value of shows, but just in very very poor taste. You’re left with a poor quality product that is also offensive, and I’m not the least bit squeamish. The stuff is so bad it just doesn’t even hold my interest enough to watch. News media and basically all pop-cultural media influences are the same way. You keep a healthier mind by just keeping it out of your life as best as you can, and wherever possible, because keeping the trash 100% out of your life is practically impossible.

  • DRT May 22, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    I find it interesting here that you refer to Timothy Leary.
    “I decided it was time to apply Dr. Timothy Leary’s advice to “turn on, tune in and drop out” in a personally productive manner.
    In the 1960s, Leary’s admonition became the slogan for American counterculture.”
    I’m old enough to remember the ’60s quite well. And I recall Leary being a typical doping Berkeley product. I recall that Leary was jailed a number of times for drugs. I recall that Leary was the one mostly responsible for the introduction of drugs such as LSD and PCP.
    I recall Leary being called “the most dangerous man in America” by then President Nixon. (Himself, no shining star…)
    A brief Google of Leary, reveals he was married five times. It also reveals that he was an escapee from jail, who fled the country to avoid prosecution. He was eventually caught and returned to serve his time. He was one of the movers and shakers of the hippie movement. By the height of the hippie movement, he was in California advocating the use of LSD, which had become illegal, and telling young people to “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” I could go on and on here, but there is no need to.
    So you are quoting him, and then trying to turn the meaning of his turn on tune in and drop out, into something he never, ever advocated.
    I also find it telling that since you “left” broadcasting, you no longer what television, nor read newspapers. And yet you feel qualified to write an opinion column for a news media?

  • DB May 22, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    I gave up on cable news after they spent half a day pondering why Trump gets two scoops of ice cream instead of one, like his guests. I’ll watch a little of the Sunday programs, but once a guest proves incapable of answering a simple question with a simple answer, (almost always a politician) my index finger reaches for the fast-forward button. Works out better that way, at least for me.

    • Proud Rebel May 22, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      +1
      I try to keep up on local news, so much of what I get locally comes from SG News. And now with the Canyon Media connection, it should get even better! If the TV news, would stick with reporting the news, rather than going on and on with what they think of as”entertainment” I’d watch a lot more. But I just don’t care what they think about things. I don’t want biased news, I don’t want sensationalism, and I sure don’t need some weatherperson telling me I need to wear a jacket.

  • .... May 23, 2017 at 5:19 am

    The newspapers aren’t any better

    • Proud Rebel May 23, 2017 at 10:44 am

      True! I was not meaning to indicate that they are! The basic premise of reporting the news, has pretty much been dead and buried for many decades. That is one reason that I welcome SG News! I’ve seen little to no bias on what these folks report on, or in how they cover those reports.
      They are very clear about keeping editorials separate from the news, and clearly stating that editorials are just that. After years of having to read The Trib to find out what is happening in Dixie, because The Spectrum, I aka the scrotum, either ignored news, or got so much wrong, that they would have been better off to just ignore it.

      • Proud Rebel May 23, 2017 at 10:46 am

        I find SG News to be very refreshing.
        (Just finished my thought in last post.)

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